News Column

Merchants association serves second helping of food truck rally

July 27, 2014

By Eric Schwartzberg, Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio

July 27--WEST CHESTER TWP -- Thousands of people are expected to flock here next month for the second annual Union Centre Food Truck Rally.

Scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.Aug. 8, the event will bring more than 15 food trucks to the Square @ Union Centre, 9285 Centre Pointe Drive, and will feature live music throughout the day, including headliners DV8, a rock, dance and party band.

Alcoholic beverage sales from the event, which is organized by the Union Centre Boulevard Merchants Association, will benefit the recently launched Boys & Girls Club of West Chester/Liberty. Last year's event drew approximately 5,000 diners, according to the association.

Emily Gilmartin, vice president for the UCBMA, said the event was moved to early August to draw more people, extended to 11 p.m. to accommodate more revelers and expanded to include wine in addition to draft beer.

"It's extremely popular," Gilmartin said. "The township came back to us and said they wanted it be an annual event. We had vendors approaching us to be a part of this early on this year and people who attended last year's event have been calling us to make sure they didn't miss it this year."

Gilmartin said a selection of vendors also signed up to participate on After Hours on the Square on the day before the food truck rally.

B.J. Kim, owner of Red Sesame Korean BBQ, said he is one of those businesses and is looking forward to serving customers on both days.

"Last year we did really, really well," he said. "We were really busy."

Pat Fettig of Mason operates food truck Empanadas Aqui, a food truck that serves Venezuelan street food to hungry customers outside Hamilton and Warren counties businesses and festivals, including Bunbury Music Festival and Taste of OTR.

The Union Centre Food Truck Rally will mark the eatery's Butler County debut, serving empandas, a South American turnover stuffed with anything from ground beef or shredded beef to chicken or spinach.

Fettig, who operates the business with nephew Brett Johnson and his Venezuelan wife Dabni, said the food truck business is no flash in the pan.

"Festivals are building themselves around the food truck business," Fettig said. "I think Cincinnati is becoming up there with some of the other areas that have been running trucks for years."

Companies and office buildings are also reaching out to get food trucks to park in their lots, offering anything from grilled cheese, Korean barbecue or fresh baked cupcakes to chili, pizza, burgers or shaved ice.

Dave Borcherding of West Chester Twp., who typically dines on Empanadas Aqui outside of work in Mason, said he "definitely" plans to devour the culinary offerings of that truck and others.

"My wife hasn't had a chance to sample their empanadas, but she's heard me rave about them," Borcherding said. "I think it'll be fun. We've done other food truck events before ... and it's kind of a fun thing. I'm looking forward to it."


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Source: Hamilton Journal News (OH)

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